On Twitter and in public, Donald Trump remains an uncompromising mix of bluster and bombast. Behind the scenes, he's confronting, and in some cases succumbing (slightly) to, the hard truths of governing and leading a world that hangs on his every word....Remember the post I wrote yesterday titled "Republicans in Disarray! (Probably Not)"? I quoted Joe Scarborough predicting that Trump will "blow apart the Republican Party" as "the first independent president," citing Trump's damn-the-torpedoes insistence on universal coverage in the Obamacare replacement plan. Scarborough said,
* Trump said health care is his most urgent domestic topic, telling us he spoke with President Obama again on Monday about the topic. He back-tracked a bit from his promise of insurance for everybody, saying he wanted to find a mechanism -- Medicaid block grants, perhaps -- to help the poorest get insurance. "You know there are many people talking about many forms of health care where people with no money aren't covered. We can't have that," he said.
* On Friday, he told The Wall Street Journal that border-adjustment, a vital part of the House Republicans' corporate tax-reform plan, was "too complicated." Now, it's suddenly back on the table. "It's certainly something that's going to be discussed," he said. "I would say, over the next month-and-a-half, two months, we'll be having more concrete discussions. Right now, we're really focused on health care more than anything else."
Now Donald Trump is ... warning the Republicans in the House, you better follow me. You better provide universal health insurance for everybody or else.A day later, guess what? Trump is following them. He's talking as if block grants and similar gimmicks are going to lead to universal coverage, just the way the congressional GOP does.
And instead of insisting on tariffs to discourage companies from outsourcing jobs, he's saying that border adjustment -- the congressional GOP's alternative, which involves taxing imports and exempting exports -- is "something that's going to be discussed." He's not digging in his heels. He's not firing off angry tweets directing fire at advocates of border adjustment (or Medicaid block grants, for that matter).
Trump isn't going to destroy the GOP or the "two-party duopoly," as Scarborough insists. Trump wants to be the leader, but he doesn't want to be without a gang. So, sure, he'll deviate from GOP orthodoxy, but he's going to stay in the party orbit. He thinks he wouldn't seem so tough without his boys (and they are mostly boys) backing him. And they're going to tell him what to do more often than you'd expect, because they're answerable to people richer and more savvy about the system than he is.
I've said it for a while now and I'll keep saying it: The Trump presidency is going to be at least 80% identical to a Jeb Bush or Scott Walker or Marco Rubio presidency. Which is bad enough.